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Ethiopia is besieged by multifaceted social and group conflicts of different magnitudes in the last year and half. These conflicts, depending where they occurred and how they occurred exhibit their own specific natures; nevertheless, they also have a common denominator. There is no question that these conflicts are manifestations of unaddressed and unresolved grievances that exist in society, and as such they could be addressed in a process through dialogue and peaceful means. However, they are exacerbated by extremist forces that opportunistically try to utilize them for their own narrow political benefits. These extremist organizations, rather than focusing on addressing to resolve the causes of our problems, are selectively identifying and fanning the effects of our fundamental problems to divide our peoples. We are afraid, if this trend continued unchecked, there is a possibility that it could lead to a more serious conflict and civil war.
One such extremist group is the so-called Baladera Council, an organization that is not legally registered in accordance with the law of the country. In several meetings it held in different cities in the US with Diaspora Ethiopians, this clique has officially declared war against the Oromo Qeerroo group that played a major role in the struggle against and final demise of the TPLF rule. In these meetings, it alleged that “because Qeerroo is a force that is planning to commit genocide, it should be classified as a terrorist group,” and to that effect it has launched a campaign by establishing different committees to head the effort.
Contrary to the negative labelling of Qeerroo by the extremist group, Qeerroo is an integral part of the Oromo social and administrative cultural structure that encompass all Oromo youth within a certain age bracket. It is at the heart of the Oromo society with designated and defined role in society, and as such it is not a group that could be dismantled or dismembered at will by anyone. In our current history, this is a group that single handedly and empty handed brought to its knees the Agazi force that was armed to its teeth. Thanks mainly to the struggle and achievement of Qeerroo, thousands of political prisoners were released, and political leaders who fled their country were able to return. This extremist Balderas group is doing everything in its power to have the gallant Qeerroo, a group that has played such a self-sacrificing, magnificent and honorable role, to be categorized as a terrorist group. The role that the Qeerroo played in the recent history is self-evident and there is no need to repeat here. And we have no time to waste explaining to those who for one reason or other have chosen to turn their blind eye to reality, and do not want to see the truth.
Political motivated killings and the burning of religious institutions should be categorically condemned without any reservations. Because no one is above the law, individuals who commit such crimes and organizations who plan and push individuals to commit such acts should be brought to court of justice and face the full brunt of it. However, demanding the whole generation of one ethnic group to be categorized as a terrorist group is not asking for justice, but a way of trying to accomplish one’s hidden and subversive political goal under the guise of justice. We hope the peoples of Ethiopia can see through this machinations.
The International Oromo Lawyers Association (IOLA) that is set up to support and uphold peace and the rule of law in our country, with the strongest terms condemns the Baladara’s plot to have the Oromo youth be categorized as a terrorist group. Balderas is a clique that is set up from the very beginning to counter the Oromo interest, and its activities and acts should be understood within that context. This is a dangerous and illegal hate group that is bent on creating conflicts between peoples. Therefore, its activities should be closely monitored and if necessary this group should be brought to justice. IOLA will without any hesitation expose and fight such illegal organizations that could be a source of conflict in our society.
Ethiopia is found at a critical stage. The existence of extremist groups such as Balderas makes the dangerous situation even worse. However, if we are vigilant and coordinate our efforts to stand against the evil acts of such extremist groups that are mushrooming everywhere, we have no doubt we will finally be victorious.
Addis Abeba
1 December, 2019

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